Greenbuddies NewsUpdates from the world of renewable energy

Greenbuddies tips – July 2021 27.07.2021

 

Source: Adobe Stock

Vehicle-to-grid

The European Commission expects the amount of electric vehicles (EVs) in the EU to increase up to 190 mil. and over 64 % of electricity will be produced from renewables (RES) until 2050 [1]. Given the intermittent nature of the RES, the electrical grid requires some kind of storage in order to match generation and consumption at every instant. Until now the only large scale storage of electrical energy has been the pumped storage hydroelectric power plant. However, it cannot be built everywhere, it represents a big intervention into the environment and it is linked to huge investments.

Therefore, industry has been searching for an alternative solution and batteries were recognized as a viable option. Nevertheless, Li-ion batteries (which can survive large number of cycles) are particularly pricy despite the price having dropped over 80 % in the last decade.
As a result researchers in the late 90’s from University of Delaware have come up with an idea to utilize batteries from parked Evs, taking advantage of the fact that 95 % of personal cars on average are standing still in a parking lot. The concept had been given a name Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G).
Most of the current EVs allow only unidirectional flow of energy from the grid to an EV. Moreover, charging is not managed in any intelligent coordinated way and a driver simply starts the charging whenever needed. However, people tend to charge their cars in the same periods of day and if penetration of EVs in the fleet exceeds certain limit, the grid will face serious congestions. Thus, some kind of smart charging will become of vital importance.
The most advanced type of smart charging is V2G, where the time of charging is shifted in order to meet generation from RES and to avoid congestions in the grid and. Moreover, it can also support grid by injecting energy. Provision of other auxilliary services such as reactive power compensation is also possible.
For a long time the technology only existed within the bounds of scientific papers, but since 2015 pilot projects started to spread mainly within Europe. The strongest market for V2G is the United Kingdom at the moment, where large subsidies are in place. The British for instance, have put V2G-capable double-deckers in operation. Speaking of commercial R&D, the Nissan group is definitely the most active contributor to the concept.
Despite the large attention of academics, the technology is still facing an enormous amount of challenges where probably the most frequently mentioned one is the unknown impact on battery. Therefore, the concept is still waiting if it becomes a viable technology or a dead end.

Source: [1] A. Moser a A. Klettke, „European Commission. Effect of electromobility on the power system and the integration of RES S13 Report,“ June 2018. [Online].

Opening of the Swedish market

We are lucky that we can extend our working area to the beautiful north to Sweden. We realized four rooftop PVE projects with a total power of 1,1MWp. Three projects were located in Stockholm and its suburbs, one of them near Göteborg.

Sweden, however, is not a typical „solar country“. Despite this, there is much interest in the subject of green energy and the long summer days mean that it is still worthwhile. Most of the rooftop PVEs are situated on roofs of storage halls in logistic parks.
Two kinds of mounting systems have been used. Two of PVE were with Esdec Mounting Systems, two with Van Der Valk Solar Systems.
Our task was mounting the sub constructions, modules placement, and cable management. The main goal was to be done with all projects in one month. That´s why we had two assembly teams in Stockholm that were moving between the project locations dependent on the state of affairs with the material delivery.

An interesting diversion for our workers was to meet three baby seagulls nesting on the edge of one of the roofs.

The beautiful thing about Sweden is that you don’t have to go deep into nature to see a slice of life.

New Head of Sales Support on Board of Greenbuddies Charging

The Board of Greenbuddies Charging is constantly expanding with quality people and we decided to introduce our new Head of Sales Support in a short interview.

1) Hi Tomas, I remember very well that when we started talking about your future involvement with Greenbuddies Charging (GBC), you talked about your previous position at ComAp, where you were involved in renewables. What did that position actually entail and did you observe any parallels with your current work with us?

In ComAp I came accross renewables thanks to development of the mains protecion unit, at that time called NPU. For the company, this unit was an accessory, necessary for installations of biogas-engine driven generators in parallel with mains. At a certain point in time we noticed that sales of NPUs, yet still fraction of the complete company business, were growing faster than the CHP market itself. And upon closer inspection we found out that without much effort, the NPU became standard equipment for PV installations. This was simply because the utilities already knew it, trusted and recommended it. That was the time when I decided to join the team, whose task was to enter the unknown market in a controlled way. My responsilbility was to manage the redesign of NPU- that received a completely new look, the new name MainsPro and we did the development completely from scratch. Probably we did it right, beacuse in a few years MansPro became popular in many countries, from USA, through UK, Italy, Germany to Australia. At this point in time I was already responsible for the complete strategic team with a new challenge ahead: in the (for us) brand new market of renewable energy, build and later realize the strategy of global growth. Due to ComAp‘s main focus on combustion engines, this path led through hybrid applications in a concept of PV + diesel generators with addition of batteries, wind and cloud monitoring system. Usually in big island operations, which are quite frequent in remote areas of South America, Africa or Australia. When I was leaving ComAp, the development of universal control system for such hybrid power plants was finished and I think there are several pilot projects in operation nowadays.

2) What was the most difficult work situation you got into before Greenbuddies and how did it turn out?

Difficult to say, I have lots of ups and downs, did a lot of mistakes and got into a lot of uncomfortable situations, where I needed to find my way out. I’m happy to see the result behind me, so even in unpleaseant situations I try to forge into a positive outcome, be it an experience for myself at least. For example I had a difficult time starting up a business with my ex-colleague. In the beginning, we were both excited. He has developed the product, an industrial smart charger of starting batteries for big revolving engines. I had a box full of business cards, most of them of my friends from around the world. We knew the market, we knew where to go and where to order the production. Our first disillusion was to find out that our product costs almost ten times more than the competitive ones. We agreed we will not give up and develop a sharp competitive cannon, but the development took far too long. Probably my biggest mistake was my feeling of having lots of time for everything. Everything ended up at a dead end and we had to terminate the project. That was the time when I had a terrible feeling of wasted time and opportunity. But I’m sure that even this was a lesson I had to pass.

3) You’ve been working for GBC for almost two months now, so what are your impressions so far? What has surprised you pleasantly, and conversely, what did you really not expect at all?

GBC is a great bunch of people. I know that this goes a long way when it comes to building a company. Furthermore, I feel that we are sitting on a great opportunity, which has yet to seriously emerge and this feeling is also great. As projects are coming to GBC, there is more work and lot of those opporunities lead to successfull realization. This also does not happen by itself. And as the load increases, I feel the support within the team to make everything go the right way. When I was struggling to prepare my first offer, several good spirits suddenly emerged from time to time, be it guys from sales support or colleagues from other departments who were able to explain to me how to proceed further. Often I even did not have time to open my mouth and ask the question and yet the answer came right away! Hard to say the unexpected things. For example I worked late until 1 a.m. with Vasek Cubinek, to rewrite an offer into a format suitable for the customer, only to find out in the morning that the customer actually liked the original format better. I believe that even this is OK, this just happens. I cannot say this was unexpected 😊.

4) In your spare time, you do sailing and have a skipper’s exam, among other things. Which waters do you like to go to most for this sport and how often do you usually succeed?

Being a freelancer, I sailed a lot as an instructor – courses, improvement or sport cruises. I also race in a regatta that I organize. I love to cruise with people, who love sailing and they want to study. I transfer whatever I know and I study together with them, because you are never 100% prerpared when it comes to sail the sea. Usually I go to Croatia. No remedy, it is the most accessible warm sea and it is wonderful. But I love sailing longer distances, „living with the boat“ for several days not seeing the shore. I sailed like this from Brittany, from Lisbon, from Spain over the Medditerranean to Italy or spending three weeks in Carribean. Every place is beautiful in a different way.

5) What subjects did you enjoy most at school?

Funny thing is, I don’t have memories of a favourite subject. This does not mean that it was bad in any way. I remember a gentleman, coming to substitute our lady teacher for one history lesson in 6th class. I hated history lessons. He started to tell the story, I think it was about the Czech Estates’ Uprising. Not sure precisely. But I’m pretty sure about finding myself in the middle of the story, which suddenly turned into colourful and interesting novel, being told by the elderly guy. Precisely because it is a real story, unlike e.g. fantasy novels, where somehow nobody questions that the story is thrilling. Yet, looking at the Europe’s history, this is such an amazing fantasy saga of millions of layers, carrying big and small stories, grown one through another! I will never forget this lesson. For the first and for long also for the last time, I loved a history lesson!

6) Are you going to tell us something about yourself that you haven’t told anyone else?

I sometimes get pretty chatty, so it is quite a difficult job to find something I never told to anyone. And in case there is something like that, it is probably to stay untold. 😉

Tom thanks for the interview, we wish you good luck and success in Greenbuddies Charging.

Tom: I thank you!

Market Footprint 2Q 2021 19.07.2021

 

Greetings!
 
We hope all is well!

We would like to share some news with you. We are lucky that we could extend our working area to the north to beautiful Sweden, where we already realized four rooftop installations in the recent month!

Today, we are happy to say we already got completed over 442 MWp in recent 3,5 years and are still growing day by day. Details you can see – as every quarter – in our Market footprint.

If you have any projects where we can be of help to you, don’t hesitate to send us an RFQ of your projects. We would be pleased to prepare an offer for you and we are looking forward to continuing our cooperation!

Best Regards 

 

Greenbuddies tips – June 2021 25.06.2021

Source: Adobe Stock

The spa season begins…

The improving weather and the pandemic situation are reflected in the slow return of normal things to “normal”. As a result, hotels and spa complexes are starting to reopen. We’ve decided to take you to one such complex project in a slightly different way than you’re used to – today. And, of course, it’s going to be a “Greenbuddies Charging” style visit.

This time, we’ll be talking about a complex project to install a photovoltaic power plant with an installed capacity of 1.5MW on shelters (or carports if you prefer) in the public car parks in the area of the Sonnentherme Lutzmannsburg spa. EPC stands for Engineering, Procurement & Construction, which is a turnkey construction project including the preparation of the project documentation, the purchase of all technologies, components and services, the actual implementation and construction, and finally the commissioning and handover to the client for use.
The main purpose of the project is to reduce the own-consumption of the entire spa complex and at the same time to expand the charging capacity for parking electric cars or plug-in hybrids when visiting the spa. To the one existing charging station, a total of 10 AC chargers with a unit charging power of 11kW will be added thanks to Greenbuddies Charging.
Let’s take a brief look at the history of the project: after nine months of negotiations, Greenbuddies Charging signed a contract with the general contractor, E-Koenig, based in Bad Vöslau, at the end of 2020. The subject of the contract is the complete supply, assembly and installation of the aforementioned technologies and solutions for the largest reference solar power plant project of its kind located on carports in Austria. With a bit of exaggeration, the parallel can therefore be drawn that Austria’s longest spa slide (202m) will be joined by the largest solar power plant built on a massive carport structure on both car parking areas on the site.
As the project is subject to the Obenpullendorf building authority in terms of location and compliance with all legal conditions, it was necessary to prepare the documentation for the building permit in the first phase of the project so that the project could be implemented. Due to the very specific conditions or natural constraints of the car parks underground (e.g. a maximum water table height of 90cm below the surface and at the same time a clay subsoil at a depth of only “100cm”, which does not allow rainwater drainage from the roofs of the carports and the car park surface itself in a standard way), we had to add an extensive construction part to the actual PV project and charging solution for electric vehicles. This was primarily a drainage system under both car parks in the form of a retention basin and a soakaway layer that can hold all the rainwater or water from melting snow, thus ensuring safe year-round operation of the car park. The system required the Exchange and recycling of a total of 5,000 m2 of grass tiles and their replacement with paving stones in all parking spaces.

In addition to the above drainage system for both car parks, the scope of the project also included the refurbishment of the surface of the bus parking area, again including drainage, the construction of shelters (the method of hammering HEA180 profiles and laying 72 concrete blocks was used for the installation of the foundation structure) with PV on the roofs of the carports. In the construction of the power plant we used 11 pieces of Huawei 110kW inverters, the infrastructure for charging the electric vehicles consists of 10 pieces of AC chargers with 11kW power. This included the supply and installation of a CCTV surveillance system, a lighting system for the interior of the shelter structure and separate control of the entrance barriers, as well as cabling for the UPS backup power supply.

By the time our readers read these lines we will already be preparing to install the horizontal structures and laying the panels on the roof of the carports. The finalization of the entire work and handover to the investor is planned for the beginning of the fourth quarter of this year.

So keep your fingers crossed!

Unconventional sites for the construction of photovoltaic plants – Greenhouses

In recent years, the number of photovoltaic power plant constructions has grown rapidly, meaning that the possibilities on conventional construction sites such as fields and roofs are gradually being exhausted. The industry is becoming increasingly interesting for us due to the requirements of novel locations for placing of solar plants.

In past articles we have described atypical locations for the construction of solar power plants including former landfills, roofs of shopping malls and sports stadiums. Currently, we would like to talk about projects implemented on the roofs of greenhouses. These are atypical buildings that must be designed individually as a result of specific requirements imposed on these projects. One of these interesting requirements is, for example, the required brightness in the greenhouse together with sufficient sunlight fall on the panels located on its roof. In this way, an ideal performance of the panels can be achieved. Another requirement may be, for example, impermeability against rain so that the greenhouse is fully usable.
An interesting solution is a structure that is able to transmit solar radiation through the panels themselves, as they are partially transparent modules. To give you an idea, these modules are shown in Figure on the right. We have not yet had the opportunity to come across this type of solution because it is not yet commonly used in commercial projects. However, it is certain that in the very near future a rapid development of this type of project can be expected due to the high demand alongside strong support for innovation in this field. In a new study in March 2021, researchers at North Carolina State University tested the application of semi-transparent modules in a greenhouse, monitoring the effect on plant health and growth inside after installing panels instead of glass. In red lettuce, it was shown that the use of semi-transparent solar panels did not affect plant growth. The type of solar panels used in this research are semi-transparent organic solar cells (ST-OSCs), not the silicon-based type used in large photovoltaic plants. ST-OSCs promise flexibility and can be modified to absorb different wavelengths of light as needed. These are, wavelengths that plants do not use for photosynthesis. So far, these panels do not have the same performance as conventional photovoltaic cells. However, they are constantly improving and could be used in many different applications, including windows of residential houses.

Our first experience in this field was the Seelow photovoltaic power plant in eastern Germany, where we were in charge of the complete installation of the PV plant. Therefore, the work included the assembly of substructures, modules, electrical installation and inverter assembly. This project has a capacity of 750 kWp – 2,628 modules and 11 inverters were installed during assembly. In this project, the greenhouse glass was left intact and the modules were installed only on the south side of the roofs, so this site continues to function normally as a greenhouse.

Interior view of the construction process (before-after).

 

The latest greenhouse PV power plant construction we provided is located in the north of the Netherlands and was successfully commissioned a month ago. This power plant has a capacity of 6 MWp and is one of the largest of its kind. During its construction, around 20.000 modules and were installed. Unlike the German project, our customer in this pilot project opted for a mounting system that required the removal of glass from the greenhouse roofs. The first challenge for our customer was to remove the glass. Then the metal profiles were installed (bespoke developement by the customer) and the last step was the assembly, panel connection and DC wiring work. Due to the specifics of the project it was always necessary to have, in addition to standard machinery, special platforms normally used for greenhouse construction. The construction work lasted approximately 2 months and we are very happy to have been part of this great technical challenge and part of its successful start-up. We believe that this interesting use of solar modules will become more frequent as this solution brings only positive aspects.

Aerial view of a completed 6 MWp power plant project in the Netherlands.

New Project Manager Michal Boška

The Board of Greenbuddies is constantly expanding with quality people and we decided to introduce our new project manager Michal Boška in a short interview.

1) Tell me how you first got involved in with Greenbuddies?
I found out about the existence of Greenbuddies by coincidence, specifically through spotting a hiring advertisement on a platform. Therein, Greenbuddies presented itself as a dynamic, flexible and goal driven company. Furthermore, it displayed all the values I was searching for, thus I considered that an application was worth a try. The try worked, and here I am.
2) What do you find most challenging about jour job?
My job position is in its very nature a challenge 😊 Project development is a complex, complicated and challenging environment- requiring the same from his manager. The most challenging situations are when everything is perfectly prepared, checked and planned but subsequently the action of one individual destroys this all effort within the fraction of time.
3) What’s your personal philosophy on what should be done about Renewables/Solar industry?
Despite the fact that there are certain problematic topics in the solar industry, I believe the work we do today changes our future. For me personally, it is a sector with greater added value alongside social, planetary, and environmental significance. It may seem utopic that PV industry has the ability to change everything, but it will definitely slowly contribute to better and cleaner future, even though the path ahead of us is still long.
4) What would you tell someone who is thinking about building a PV plant?
That the solar energy is definitely worthy of investment, that it has reached great milestones in development over the last decade, it is a step forward to a clean future and one of the core methods of sustainably generating electricity. Daily usage of electricity in our lives is enormous and continuously growing. In order to keep our current way of life without destruction of the environment, everyone needs to turn his interests into green energy production. A solar plant is a power source affordable to almost everyone today.
5) What do you do when you aren’t working?
Spending time in nature with my wife and daughters, lost in woods by myself and surrounded by mountains with my hiking buddies.

Greenbuddies tips – May 2021 18.05.2021

Source: Shutterstock

Electric Bus Charging

Quiet and non-polluting, electric buses have many advantages over their diesel counterparts. A few years ago, the majority of electric buses came in the form of minibuses as a result of the size and weight of batteries. Now manufacturers are designing electric buses of all sizes thanks to massive improvements in battery technology for electric mobility. The battery charging method also requires adaptations to existing infrastructure on routes and depots.

Slow charging at the depot is the most common method. Recharging time depends on the charging station power. It usually takes between 4 and 6 hours to fully charge the batteries- this is usually done once a day and often overnight. An additional recharge can be made during the day if buses return to the depot. The connection of the charging cable is done manually. A load supervision solution optimizes electricity consumption (smart charging) and ensures that the power limit at the depot is not exceeded.

Electric bus recharging solutions are evolving with fast charging. The new charging method consists of several quick recharges outside of the depot when the bus is at stops on the route or at the terminal station. Several manufacturers have come together with a solution whereby the bus is recharged through physical contact with an inverted pantograph. This means that it is no longer necessary to connect a cable in order to recharge the bus! In addition, these systems make it possible to reduce the weight of the on-board batteries, which in return makes it possible to reduce the weight of vehicles and so carry more passengers.

Electricity for bus recharging can be produced locally with photovoltaic systems to achieve 100% emission free transport. Shanghai has set up the very first solar power project for a bus depot in the PRC. Covering nearly 2000 m2, the solar panels provide enough energy to recharge 6 buses at the same time. The system also provides energy for other purposes at the facility and even feeds electricity back to the grid.
The future is undoubtedly one wherein green energy becomes the norm, and transport shall very quickly turn all-electric. Governments worldwide are facilitating this transition by supporting programs for the acquisition of electric vehicles and for the installation of new EV charging alongside renewable energy infrastructure. The e-Mobility revolution is inevitable and unstoppable. At Greenbuddies Charging, we are proud to be involved in this change together with our customers and partners!

Repowering 

In recent years, repowering on solar power plants has been increasing in the German solar market. Repowering on a solar power plant means the replacement of individual components, most often the solar modules. These replacements can be brought about due to various situations such as failure of the components, damage or theft. Most solar parks secure their revenues by the fixed price. Therefore, the owner wants to generate as much electricity as possible whilst simultaneously following all the rules so as not to commit fraud.

Accelerated degradation is also considered as part of damage to modules. Over the years the German network agency set a limit for what is considered natural degradation, the surpassing of which means accelerated degradation. The limit is degradation exceeding 10 % of original power during 10 years of module operation. The repowering of a PV plant whilst maintaining the subsidy is possible if complying with several conditions: new module power cannot be in sum greater than the original power output of the old power plant. Alongside this, old modules need to be disposed of by a certified company and in case the modules are changed due to accelerated degradation (under the 90 % of nominal out power in 10 years lifetime), the degradation must be caused by technological reasons, not by the i.e. dusting of modules etc.

Greenbuddies has already participated on several larger repowering projects over 3 MW. In reality this means to dismounting all the old modules, and careful preparation for transport. This is because the modules are often sent for testing before disposal at the manufacturer post-dismount, as they usually hold the guarantee for degradation. Furthermore, the DC strings must be adjusted since the new modules are more powerful, leading to differences in length of the strings. Before the start of a repowering project, careful planning is required gauging what material is fit for reuse, and what is in need of replacement. Usually old string cables in the ground can be reused, as well as some of the clamps if not affected by corrosion etc.

The repowering of a solar plant is often just as time consuming as the regular construction of a new solar plant as a result of the complexity. The same amount of time is spent on dismounting modules as would usually be spent on ramming and substructure completion. Placement of new modules is then similar to that on a new Pv plant, as it is with the string adjustment and measurements. The only advantage in the perspective of time is the absence of AC works at a repowering project. However, this is not always the case as exchanging old modules with new ones often opens up space on the substructure (due to the increased power of new modules). This free capacity can then be used to expand the power plant if extra capacity in the distribution network is available. An example of this is a project where we are completing repowering of an originally 5.7MW plant – the placement of modern modules allowed for an extra 1.5MW to be placed on the existing substructure, thereby increasing power generation by 25% on the same surface area as compared to 10 years ago.

Source: SPR Energie

New Sales Consultant on Board of Greenbuddies

We are getting more and more involved into the DACH market. This market is a key market for Greenbuddies since solar is increasing in popularity and strongly subsidized. Therefore is proved we need to have excellent people on ground in Germany, Austria and Switzerland to get close on new opportunities. From this year Jarmil Slesinger joined the team and we bring you an interview with him.

1) What has surprised you most about working with Greenbuddies?
It is stunning, how quickly a solar system can be built. One you have finished all the paperwork, teams of professionals start their orchestration and a new plant or rooftop installation is literally growing under your hands. Often people returning from their vacation and seeing a new PV plant do not believe their eyes.
2) What would you tell someone who is thinking about building a PV plant?
Do it, whatever the motivation is. Lower energy bills, preserving the Earth’s finite fossil-fuel resources or reducing air pollution. At the end of the day, all of these will apply and not only for the owner, it is a win for all of us. Our planet profits from each installed solar panel.

3) What do you think will change about the PV world over the next years?
Every European country is already working on a green agenda, plans how to become carbon neutral. For example, Austria plans to reboot its tax laws in 2022 and now evaluates the best way to put a price on ecologically destructive activities. China announced to reach carbon neutrality before 2060, following an earlier European Union commitment to do the same already by 2050. Electric cars are often in the headlines, but carbon neutrality will impact all parts of our lives and the importance of solar systems will continuously grow. In addition, further enhancements of energy storage systems will be critical to increase the ability of PV systems to replace the existing energy sources and enable long term turn in the energy market.

4) As a part of the PV team, what sorts of actual challenges do you see?
The spread of COVID-19 has heavily impacted global economics. Industries like tourism, airlines, and retail industry suffered immediately in the first quarters, but subsequent restrictions impacted production of raw materials and components and the shortages in the logistic did not satisfy global market demands. These days the ordering process takes much longer than usual and increased raw material prices negatively impact the costs.

5) What do you do when you aren’t working?
I love being exposed to new places, people, and cultures. I like to travel independently without prepared holiday packages. It does not matter if the destination is far or just behind your backyard. I love to taste and smell the local food, discover special places, and have a plan that may change at any given moment. Sometimes I stay off beaten paths because some places cannot be discovered without getting lost.
6) How would (someone) describe you?
Tireless optimist 🙂

Greenbuddies tips – April 2021 21.04.2021


Source: Unsplash

The Greenbuddies Charging team continues to grow

The development of our business goes hand in hand with the need to add new experienced colleagues to our team. Human capital is our main asset. It is therefore not surprising that we try to pay maximum attention to the selection of suitable candidates and their education.

At the beginning of March, our project management department was strengthened by Mr. Pavel Vycpálek. I decided to interview him a little for the current issue of our newsletter.

1) Hi Pavel, I remember very well that when we started talking about your future involvement in Greenbuddies Charging (GBC), you worked as a Quality Engineer in the automotive industry. What did the position actually mean and what parallel could you observe there with your current position with us?

Yes, for the last 15 years I have worked as a Quality Engineer – a customer service specialist. This meant that I was in charge of several customers (Audi / Porsche / Lamborghini / Bentley / Daimler / Wabco / Scania / ZF) in the product segment of manufactured switches at the TRW Benešov plant. the last two years the company was called BCS-AIS Benešov. The main task was to deal with complaints about switches via portals or on site in car manufacturers. The next step was sampling and introducing new switches directly in car manufacturers or steering wheel manufacturers.
To the point of the question, I rather saw more of a parallel between my current role in GBC and my previous position at TRW, when I worked in the new projects department. This meant securing everything about the new project (product) in the parent plant (production line / technology / workflows, etc.) with the Program Manager, who worked in our management plant in Germany where the entire team of designers was based.

2) What was the most awkward work situation you got into before the Greenbuddies and how did it turn out?

During my time at TRW (29 years), there were a lot of situations and it’s hard to say which was the most awkward.
One that could be highlighted was my first and also my last business trip to Tunisia to the steering wheel manufacturer. After arriving in the capital Tunis I rented a car, went to a hotel in Monastir and the next day went to the designated address of the production plant. I set off a little earlier and the navigation took me to a city. However, I did not find the production plant. So I reached the gas station and asked if there was such a thing in this city. I don’t speak Arabic and it was almost impossible to speak English. Finally, colleagues from Autoliv called me and asked where I was, they were waiting for me at a gas station of a particular brand. I told them that I was standing at the pump of the same brand, but we did not see each other. So I sent them a picture of my car and the place via the Whatsapp application. Eventually we found out that we were about 30 km apart. I got in the car again, drove back, and they were waiting for me as soon as I entered the city. In the end, the visit was very successful and both parties were satisfied.

3) You have had a month and a half of work for GBC now, so what are your impressions so far? What surprised you pleasantly, and on the contrary, what did you really not expect at all?
I must say that I was surprised by a very friendly and nice team with which it will definitely be great to cooperate. And what surprised me – everything is completely new to me, so I have to learn a lot. I had some knowledge about solar energy, but most other things are new to me.
4) I know that you live in a medium-sized city just outside Prague (after all, there are more of us like that in Greenbuddies). What advantages or disadvantages do you see in this?

I have lived in my hometown since my birth and I am satisfied here. I have everything at hand here and when I need to dive into the big city, I get in the car and I’m there in 30 minutes.

5) What subjects did you enjoy the most at school?

At school I liked history and especially physical education, because I’m sports-based. My biggest interest is in football, which I have been playing since I was 6 years old.

6) The Corona pandemic is now perhaps an overly frequent topic. Still, I ask – what about you and COVID?

COVID – this is one big unknown for each of us. It has a thousand different forms and attacks each one differently.
I myself also went through the illness last autumn and it was not pleasant. At first I had two days of fever and after testing I scored a positive result. This was followed by 13 days of unpleasant fevers, and on the last day, a breathing problem also appeared. Later it turned out that I suffered from bilateral pneumonia, followed by a CT scan, which revealed in addition pulmonary embolism. I was immediately transferred to Covid’s department, where I spent 7 days on drips, antibiotics, vitamins,minerals and all day use of an oxygen mask. By some miracle and good care on the part of the doctors I was released home after 7 days in a relatively good condition. Then I had to stay at home for another two and a half months. Now I will still have to go through a 3-week stay in the spa to get my breathing back to normal.

7) Will you tell us something about yourself that you have not yet told anyone?

That’s something I would really like to keep to myself 😊.

Thanks Pavel for the interview, we wish you good luck and success in Greenbuddies Charging.

Battery storage as a catalyst for future energy development?

On a daily basis one can read about the fact that the future development of energy is associated with decentralization, decarbonisation and the accelerating development of renewable energy sources (RES) in the media. Unstable RES represents a great challenge for the existing electricity networks of all developed countries. The transmission and distribution networks need stability and predictability.

Arguably, the future of the energy industry will not be made possible without storage systems that shall help maintain the stability and quality of supply. Energy storage systems are based on various technologies, including battery energy storage systems (BESS). Therefore, it is quite clear that energy storage systems will become an integral part of the energy system of the future.
Battery-based electricity storage is a highly promising solution. These make it possible to store excess electricity for a time when an increase of supply due to growing demand is required. In this way, they effectively assist the ability to balance the supply and demand for electricity at each point in time.
Let’s look at electricity storage in Europe by type and prevalence:

Battery storage

The most common technology is lithium-ion batteries, which is based on a technology similar to rechargeable consumer batteries that we are all familiar with from home use. However, there are other types of battery storage technologies such as so-called flow batteries, which are large-volume storage tanks with a longer service life.

Mechanical energy storage

Typical representatives are pumped storage hydropower plants. They store energy in the form of water which is expelled by excess electricity to a higher position, from which it is discharged back when needed to drive the turbine. However, energy can also be stored, for example, in the form of compressed air stored in large reservoirs. Flywheels are another type of mechanical storage.

Thermal storage

As a typical example, we can imagine a solar tower that concentrates sunbeams through a system of mirrors in one place and stores the heat obtained in, for instance, molten salt. The energy can later be used to heat water for the steam to subsequently drive a turbine producing electricity.

Power-to-Gas

This refers to the conversion of excess electricity into gaseous fuels (hydrogen or methane), which can then be injected into the natural gas distribution system and thus store energy. It is also possible to produce synthetic methane from hydrogen during further processing.

The data sources are the Study on Energy Storage – Contribution to Security of Electricity Supply in Europe, published by the European Commission in May last year, and the Database of European Technologies and Equipment for Energy Storage from the EC current as of March 2020. The data includes those that are still at a certain stage of the project and those of which construction has been announced.

It is also interesting to look at the status of installed storage systems in individual European countries:

The graph above shows the installed power of active electricity storage systems in individual countries. As you can see, the number is not the only important parameter, the United Kingdom for instance is losing significantly here compared to the previous statistics. The advantage of solar and wind power plants is, as is well known, the absence of emissions from electricity production, or even self-sufficiency. On the other hand, there are also problems associated with renewables. One of the challenges is their dependence on the weather, due to which they cannot produce energy continuously and consistently. It is sometimes the case that they even produce too much. It is for this reason that the grid must be able to respond to these fluctuations and flexibly increase or decrease the supply of electricity to the system.
Until now, the flexibility of the network has been solved mainly by means of gas and partly through coal-fired power plants. These are to an extent advantageous with the possibility of fast start-up and power regulation. As I pointed out earlier, in the future, this way of maintaining balance in the network will become less important due to the reduction of the share of fossil resources in total output. Renewables on the other hand will grow, so the ability to flexibly balance the ratio between immediate supply and consumption in the system will need to be further strengthened. That’s why energy storage has become such a topical issue.

 

The European Commission expects that during the course of this decade, EU countries will still use conventional power plants and cross-border interconnections of individual national systems to compensate for fluctuations in the system. Howev

er, the EU’s forecast clearly relies on the importance of electricity storage having grown rapidly by 2030. Today, about 90 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity of pumped storage and battery storage facilities are in operation or at least at some stage of development in Europe. By the end of the decade Europe will need up to 110 GW according to a study by the European Commission. This increase ought to be realized primarily through batteries. Wondering why batteries instead of the other aforementioned concepts? They offer the possibility of immediate energy supply in the event of a prolonged outage or a major blackout. Storage systems are also relatively versatile in terms of their deployment – you can install them in the form of standard containers virtually anywhere. In addition to this, we now live in a time when great emphasis is put on the environmental friendliness of new technologies and battery systems have a great advantage in environmental safety – they do not release any unwanted pollutants into the environment.

As part of the company’s business strategy, we at Greenbuddies Charging firmly believe that the installation of battery storage systems will increasingly become an integral part of complete solutions for the construction of solar power plants as well as charging infrastructure for electromobility.

Increase of transport and metal prices in solar business

The COVID-19 pandemic has without doubt affected most businesses around the globe. Some of them in a negative way (e.g. hospitality and tourist industry, airlines etc.) and some ramped up enormously after the initial hiccup in the spring of 2020.. We are in many ways fortunate to be a part of the technological sector, meaning that we belong to the second aforementioed catagory.

Governments began printing cash in order to fulfil economy support programs. The resulting surplus of money in the market allowed companies and individuals to increase spending which subsequently boosted demand for both transport and resources. However, the supply side had still been recovering from the lockdown and therefore did not allocate sufficient capacity for the coming demand storm.

The combination of a shortage on the supply side and a simultanious outburst on the demand side resulted in a huge increase of freight cost. This issues were mainly concentrated in container ship transport where prices had multiplied when compared to the previous spring. The same issue applied for metallurgical industry. Copper prices broke ten years old records and aluminium and steel followed a similar pattern. The biggest contributor to the situation was China bouncing back after the COVID-19 outbreak.
Since the whole sector of renewable energy development remains largely dependant on these inputs, the costs of solar parks have risen accordingly. Solar modules and inverters are mostly shipped from China on container ships, aluminium is utilized in AC cables and mounting systems, copper as a great conductor is used for DC cabling or transformer wiring and carrying structures are made of steel.

Copper price course

Copper price course. Source: https://www.nasdaq.com/market-activity/commodities/hg%3Acmx

The whole situation made any predictions in the solar field market much more difficult due to shifting component prices. Calculations could change over short periods of time, meaning the initial ones would no longer be valid. Manufacturers reflected the roller coaster-like market behavior in the sense that offer validity in some cases just reached a couple of days. This is of course a nightmare for anyone who is responsible for budget planning. The experts envisage the prices will settle down after a while- some businesses are hedging their bets and shifting projects to the next year. However, nobody can tell when the settling down of the market will take place and what the new price level will be.

Market Footprint 1Q 2021 13.04.2021

Good afternoon,

The COVID-19 pandemic has without any doubt affected most businesses around the globe. Some of them in a negative way (e.g. hospitality and tourist industry, airlines etc.), and some ramped up enormously after the initial hiccup in the spring of 2020. Solar business luckily belong to those that are less affected.

At Greenbuddies we mainly noticed a shifting of projects rather than their cancellation. Demand for energy is ever-present and the only way to meet this demand in the foreseeable future while mitigating the environmental impact is through investing in renewable energies.

Probably the biggest impact COVID has had, causing headaches for all budget planners (not only) in the solar field, has been the immense increase of metal and transport prices- resulting in the total cost of PV plants to elevate by tens of percentage points.

Despite the encountered challenges we have delivered over 410 MWp of solar parks over the last 3 years, and we intend to continue increasing this number. Furthermore, we have established ourselves as a strong partner for automotive solutions comprising carports and EV chargers combined with battery storage systems. Details you can see – as every quarter – in our Market footprint.

We encompass:

Partial and complete construction
Repowering
Turn-key EPC delivery
Professional energy consulting
O&M on freefield, roofs and parking lots

Scale is not an issue either. Amongst our references you can find installations from several hundreds of kWp up to over 130 MWp freefield giants.
We strongly believe we can build the green future together. In case you have any projects that you would like to discuss with us, please do not hesitate to contact us or anyone within our team. We will be keen to look at your RFQ and related project documents in order to provide you with the best offer for our services.

Best regards

Greenbuddies tips – March 2021 18.03.2021

Source: Adobe Stock

Battery Storage System Markets Have Taken Off

In this issue of our Newsletter we decided to invite our Battery Storage System product manager, Marc Sottana, to address a hot topic in the renewable energy market. – We will specifically discuss the latest in the segment of battery storage solutions, a sector that is very close to our hearts at Greenbuddies Charging.

Battery storage is the fastest responding source of power on grids, and is used for multiple purposes, obviously stabilising grids in general, shaving or shifting peaks of consumption, ensuring uninterrupted power supply in power-outage sensitive types of operations, completing consumption diagrams for renewable system operators, etc. Battery storage systems may be used to shape fully-fledged power plants used for short-term peak power and ancillary services, such as providing operating reserve and frequency control to minimize the chance of power outages.

Battery costs have more than halved in the last five years. Battery storage has benefited from the economy of scale in the automotive sector and around 90% of lithium battery demand will still come from EVs over the next two decades. Specifically designed for PV + storage applications, this year the first lithium battery storage solution providing a 20-year performance guarantee was released to the market.
Falling prices and maturing battery technologies are taking the industry into a new phase of economic viability. The fast changing electricity system is beginning to realise the value of battery energy storage.
There exists a strong potential for battery energy storage to provide ancillary services to support grid stability. Last February the resulting collapse in power generation in Texas left millions without electricity. Less than 3 weeks later it was made public that Tesla is building a massive 100-megawatt energy storage in Texas to improve the efficiency of the grid and increase capacity at peak hours.
Behind the meter, residential PV + storage is actually the most dynamic market with support of subsidies for self-consumption in most European countries. For customers, savings on electricty bills are up to 70% and a return on investment is made in less than 10 years.
Last public green policies are now creating new oportunities to boost the development of micro-grids and self-consumption in commercial and industrial markets. Investing on a PV + battery storage solution turns the variable cost of electricity into a fixed cost for a 20 years minimum period while saving money. Electric vehicle charging applications for residential and commercial markets are going to grow at a phenomenal rate. The number of installations combining solar roofs, battery energy storage and charging stations for EVs is increasing rapidly. There are 10 million EVs on the road today, forecasts expect 100 million in 2030 and 400 million after 2040.
Choosing a battery energy storage system involves developing a long-term vision whereby a wide range of technical, environmental, legal and financial parameters come into play. 
At Greenbuddies Charging, we assembled a team of experts to support our customers across all stages of their battery energy storage project: consulting, feasibility studies, delivery, installation, commissioning and maintenance. 

Greenbuddies Charging continues to build strong partnerships with key players in the rapidly evolving PV and battery storage industry.
At Greenbuddies Charging, we love to share our experience – if you want to share your project with us, do not hesitate to contact us!

Soil Report As An Important Part Of  The Project Documentation

A soil report is an important document for every ground-based project. Through this report we are able to obtain information about soil properties on a given location where a power plant is to be constructed. As a result of collecting this information we are able to estimate the extent to which an anchoring construction will be challenging, thus having an effect on the cost and speed of eventual assembly.

In a case where the soil is permeable and the construction can be anchored securely, the columns are hammered into the soil directly – this way of column installing is called ramming. On the other hand, if the soil is not permeable or is packed with stones, the process of ramming will damage the pillars. In this case it is necessary to drill holes for pillars first, after which the pillars can be placed. Once these are placed in position, the holes are filled with concrete to ensure utmost dependability. It is also possible to drill the holes, fill them with concrete and whilst the concrete is still in a fluid state, place the pillars.
Prior to commencing the assembly of a solar park with an output of 3 MWp in Wriezen near Berlin, Germany, we received a soil report conveying that the ground is primarily made up of sand, thus suitable for simply ramming the pillars. However, in the very early stages of ramming, we realized that despite there being sand, there were also plenty of rocks – making the process more complicated. Specifically speaking, this unforeseen circumstance caused some pillars to be damaged during the process, or they rotated into the wrong position after touching with a stone in the soil. The end result was that we needed to change the method of installation through the use of diamond drilling to prepare holes for pillars first, then install the pillars into the right position and finally fill the holes with fast-drying and frost proof concrete. Without these changes in the method of installation the construction would be cheaper, and the implementation time would be shortened.
As a result of this experience we are acutely more aware of the importance of performing a well-founded and detailed soil report, as the accuracy of the outcomes could have a massive impact on initial investment as well as duration predictions. It is therefore of the highest interest to both the investor and the contractor that the study on which the soil report is based is of exceptional quality.

Mobilization Within 14 Days During Construction High Season

Less than two weeks had passed since the signing of the contract for the complete construction of a 15.6 MWp ground-based PV plant in France, and two excavators began digging the first trenches. We were expected to dig 2,000 m3 – almost double the usual amount – due to the fact that the location was divided by a service road into three sectors.

The ramming of the pilots was slowed down as a result of coming across large stones in the ground. We even came across an immovable “dead rock” as local French farmers call it, in three places. We hammered the pilots as best we could and subsequently performed tensile tests- verifying that we would meet the calculated pulling forces as the embedment depth was lower than required. We developed a new method of strengthening and extending the piles so that we could achieve the required values without concrete foundations as a result of the soil being too soft in 26 places. The landowner wished to keep his land in its original condition, thus piles without concrete foundations were required. Having sorted out all the above, at the end of October we supplemented our Orteco 800 driving machine with a powerful ARMIVAN AI1200, helping us ram more than 10,000 pilots in terrain with a slope of over 5 ° east-west.
The general contractor’s requirement was to place half of the panels and hang the inverters by Christmas. This was essential so that the conditions of the construction insurance were met, meaning and there was no need to take out additional insurance increasing the construction costs. The first three containers arrived on Friday December 4th. Despite unpredictable Covid-19 travel restrictions, we were able to increase our staff to 75 for the two weeks before Christmas. Thanks to the maximum effort of all the people and machinery involved we managed to lay almost 17,000 panels and install all 50 pieces Sungrow SG250HX inverters in 10 days.
Cooperation with the locals proved to be very useful for us. The French locksmith quickly made us jigs for straightening the assembly system, while the farmer’s neighbor transported the boxes with panels by tractor and trailer all over the construction site. This meant that we could get them to the distant corners of the PV plant faster and without too much difficulty. The only disappointment we faced was that the French bureaucracy took three-months to issue a construction auxiliary grid connection. We intend to learn from this experience for following projects by applying for a connection well in advance – allowing us to be energetically green from the very beginning.
Measurement and preparation for commissioning is currently underway with the participation of our elite team of electricians. In this project the client’s requirements are above standard in all respects. DC strings are measured at 1500 V in accordance with IEC 62446-1. In addition to Voc, Isc, Riso and polarity, we also measure irradiation, air and module temperature. To measure the I-V curve, the standard requires irradiation of at least 400 W / m2. We, however, must wait for a beautiful sunny day to be able to make the required measurements due to the fact that the client requires more than 700 W / m2 to make the values reflect actual conditions. A special measuring car had to come to Paris to measure VLF medium-voltage cables, as this test is not standard in France.
We are already working on another project in the vicinity for a large local construction company- having been impressed by our our quality work and particularly the full EPC delivery. We believe that we will start the new project in 4Q, 2021 and take advantage of the favourable climate and thus extend the construction season. A significant contribution to the smooth progress of the construction was the personal participation of native Frenchman Marc Sottana who, in addition to project management, mainly deals with battery storage technologies at Greenbuddies Charging, s.r.o.

Greenbuddies tips – February 2021 19.02.2021

Source: Rivian.com

Rivian – a new threat to Tesla?

Only few today doubt that Tesla is one of the most progressive and innovative car manufacturers that has emerged in the last few decades. Over the past couple of years it has built a strong position among manufacturers of luxury electric cars, which, with all due respect, none of the existing premium cars in the world have actually been able to threaten. However, this can change relatively quickly. Why and how? There are several reasons.

Rumours about robust plans to build electric vehicles of Apple, one of the world’s most valuable companies, and GM’s announcements suggest that the new era of battery-powered cars and trucks is gaining momentum. Today, however, we will focus on another potential competitor of Tesla. It is an extremely ambitious project, associated with Jeff Bezos, or better said with his logistics giant Amazon, as the main shareholder, and the engineer R. J. Scaringe as its CEO. The original idea was conceived sometimes before 2009 and soon thereafter was turned into a real-lif project called Rivian. The company has in the meantime grown into an aggressive and financially strong challenger to Tesla who recently announced that it has raised an additional $ 2.65 billion in the latest round of IPO. That increases the company’s total funding to at least $ 8 billion, more than any previous U.S. automotive start-up. Delivery of the first electric models is scheduled to begin in mid-2021 and will be built at a renovated automanufacturing facility in Normal, Illinois. But that’s not all: the American electric car manufacturer wants to build a factory in Europe just like Tesla.
A little context to better illustrate the point: As is well known, Tesla has big plans in Grünheide, Germany. They want to build a huge factory to produce 500,000 cars a year, which will also become the largest battery factory. However, the construction of the Tesla Gigafactory near Berlin is stalled, according to reports leaking to the public. Insiders even talk about a “huge delay.” Five months before the planned start of production, crucial parts of the building were still missing and the application for a battery production permit had not yet been submitted to the state authority. According to the “Business Insider”, the underground infrastructure for electricity and water supply has not yet been built.
So when could one imagine a better time come for Rivian, as a young ambitious competitor of Tesla, to attack the current leader with his own factory built somewhere in Europe? In addition to the United Kingdom and Hungary, Germany is one of the possible potential venues of interest.
At the factory, Rivian initially intends to produce vans for the logistics giant Amazon and later also passenger cars.
Rivian is considered by experts to be a serious competitor of Tesla. Firstly, the company already has on its books a significant order for 100,000 electrical vans from its shareholder Amazon. And secondly, Rivian already has two finished car models. Production and delivery of the R1T pick-up is to begin in June, followed by the R1S SUV in August – a segment in which Tesla also has ambitious plans.
Thanks to this newly ordered electric vehicle fleet Amazon wants to become more independent of logistics giants such as UPS and DHL, and at the same time come much closer to its goal of delivering half of its shipments by 2030 completely without greenhouse gas emissions. R.J. Scaringe hopes to be able to start production of these small battery-powered trucks as early as 2022.
And so we are in for a very interesting battle among the gigantic manufacturers of electric cars, which will certainly be worth watching very closely!

 

Establishment of the Dutch branch GB Energy BV

Greenbuddies first service deliveries were to Germany; year after that Greenbuddies, s.r.o. had a modest fair stand at Solar Solutions International in Expo Haarlemmermeer near Amsterdam. Since than we are steadily increasing our construction volumes in the Netherlands.

In the course of time we came across with Jos Schlangen, an experienced Solar expert which is in the Dutch Solar industry since the industry itself started. Jos, previously working for at-that-time-solar-giants like Siemens or Shell, became our face to the Dutch & Belgian markets and he quickly gained respect and confidence by our clients. As a next logical step – together with more complex works which we also started to deliver became a decision to setup a local Dutch entity. Since December 2020 there is a joined local company called Greenbuddies Energy BV and we are adding more workforce to cope with the challenges of the fast growing market. Jos is not only leading the office but is also a shareholder to the company.
Apart from agile support of our construction, installation and time-to-time also EPC activities the new office backed with a strong international investor is mandated to create a pipeline of more than 100 MW of own PV projects within next 2-3 years, so we are looking for land and roofs which would be available for solar projects.

We are looking forward that you meet our Dutch team at the Greenbuddies stand of Solar Solutions 2021 in September this year!

 

Why should I invest into a photovoltaic plant?

Everybody is well aware of alarming carbon dioxide levels and other damaging impacts of human activities on Earth and most of the people in western affluant countries are trying to act environmental-friendly, whether it is by riding a bike to work or by waste sorting. But investment in renewable energies has been widely considered as noble but without financial support from the EU and governments unprofitable.

Indeed, a decade ago solar parks wouldn’t stand a chance against conventional generation from the economic perspective, if it wasn’t for heavy subsidies. However, as time went on, the costs of main components (especially modules) have been dropping exponentially. According to the annual report by IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) from 2019, the LCOE (levelised costs of electricity) for solar decreased by almost 90 % just within the last decade! Probably the most stunning fact is that solar is becoming the cheapest source of energy, even cheaper than fossil fuels, which can be seen in the figure below.

Source: IRENA; Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2019: Latest Trends and DriversAvailable online: https://www.irena.org/-/media/Files/IRENA/Agency/Webinars/2020/Jun/IRENAinsight-webinar_RPGC-in-2019-Overview.pdf?la=en&hash=80A08A29C8807989DC9DBA8E78E55B6124DC5E42 

The exponential decline hasn’t reached its bottom yet, but the rate is clearly slowing down. Moreover, once the policymakers realize that solar segment is viable in free market conditions, they will cut off the subsidies which are still available. Given all the data we have, it seems that now it’s the best time for investment in PV plant because the price of electricity grows steadily year after year. Hence, ownership of a PV plant ensures stable cash flow for a long time.

Investment in PV combines several benefits. Firstly, it makes your future electricity bills predictable and significantly lower if you fit the consumption to the size of the plant while protecting yourself from the increase of electricity costs. This also makes you less dependent on the grid availability. Secondly, you can use it for marketing purposes since you are powered by green energy. And thirdly and most imporantly, you can make decent money out of it when you simply decide to sell the generated energy to the grid.

Am I the right person?

Basically, you can install PV anywhere; field, meadow, landfill, water reservoir, flat roof, tilted roof and so on. All of these surfaces can be covered with panels. And if you are still hesitating whether western/central Europe is a suitable place for a PV plant then the graph below showing installed solar capacity in the Netherlands is self-explanatory.Source: TU Delft, Dutch Solar EnergyAvailable online: https://www.tudelft.nl/?id=59086&L=1 

 

 

Greenbuddies tips – January 2021 21.01.2021

Plug-in hybrids – support or threat to European climate goals?

In January 2020, in blissful ignorance, we witnessed an unprecedented drop in CO2 emissions from newly sold cars across Europe as well as significant increase in electric car sales. It was not that the drivers suddenly miraculously changed their preferences. The key reason was the legislation, as the long-awaited rules for reducing CO2 emissions for cars in 2020-21 came into force.​​​​​​​

They require car manufacturers to invest in clean technology, mostly in electric cars, and reduce carbon pollution from car sales to an average of 95 g/km. This has triggered massive investments on the part of manufacturers, the range of so-called plug-in models (vehicles with internal combustion engines equipped with an electric motor that charges from a socket) has expanded significantly, and the steep increase in sales followed quickly come as a result of all these changes.

Despite the Covid 19 pandemic, 2020 will go down in history as the year when electromobility in Europe began to gain momentum. There has never been a better time to buy a plug-in car, which for many customers who are afraid to buy purely battery-powered electric vehicles is a sort of optimal compromise between the quest for emission-free individual transport and the desire to sustain sufficient range (and therefore comfort) to which they have been accustomed. However, this state is far from ideal. You ask why? Well, precisely because half of the sales of electric vehicles are plug-in hybrids. We have to realize that these cars are not, in principle, designed to have zero emissions – they are mostly powered by combustion (and therefore pollution-producing) powertrains.

Therefore, experts fear that higher sales of cars with alternative propulsion could, as a result, increase CO2 emissions in operation more than previously expected. For instance, according to a joint study of the German Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (Ifeu), the Ökoinstitut and the European Transport Association for Transport and the Environment commissioned by by the Federal Ministry of Environment in Berlin, this is mainly due to the high proportion of plug-in hybrids among the new vehicle registrations.

Plug-in hybrids, as already mentioned, use mainly an internal combustion engine in daily operation – and thus emit significantly more CO2 than stated with reference to the results of test measurements. According to one of the leading researchers at the Ökoinstitut, plug-in hybrids can be expected to produce an additional 4.3 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in the transport segment in 2030 in addition to the original market forecasts. And all this in a situation where, according to previous estimates, the transport sector would miss the original target of a maximum amount of CO2 for 2030 of 95 million tonnes by around 30 million tonnes.

According to the authors of the study, previous scenarios for the development of CO2 emissions in the transport sector derived the volume of emissions immediately after the official homologation of a given vehicle type. However, especially in the case of heavy hybrid plug-in models, the actual operation exceeds this value several times. In addition, the study states that about a third of newly registered hybrid plug-in vehicles are heavy SUVs or off-road vehicles, which are worse off in terms of environmental pollution than conventional lighter plug-in hybrids. The main reasons for the low portion of electric journeys in the total distance traveled are the lack of economic incentives for electric charging and the underdeveloped charging infrastructure. Another problem is the short range of electricity, especially for heavy vehicles.

The study advocates stricter conditions for the purchase of subsidized insurance premiums and tax benefits for plug-in hybrids. According to the document, discounts for plug-in hybrids should be related to “hard”, i.e. measurable criteria for purely electric driving range, electric performance and the evidence of regular charging. In addition, electric propulsion should be financially attractive to users. At the end of last year, for example, the German independent environmental agency Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) called for an end to government subsidies and tax subsidies for these types of vehicles. The reason was, among other things, a study by Transport & Environment, which found that CO2 emissions from three hybrid models tested in real operation were up to eight times higher than the values stated by the manufacturer.

So again like many times before, does it turn out that a hybrid solution, or compromise in other words, can actually be to the detriment rather than to the advantage?


Market opening in Belgium for Greenbuddies

Although Greenbuddies Energy BV and its head Jos Schlangen is responsible for the entire BeNeLux market until half of this year we haven’t explored the market in Belgium systematically and we did not have there any constructions (with one big exception of the mighty 71 MW Kristalpark).

This has changed as we recognised that several Belgian companies reacted on what we do in Holland. In one of the rare lockdown windows allowing to fly from Prague to Amsterdam and drive to Belgium we have flown in and together with Jos visited some of these interested companies. The interest proved to be genuine and since last quarter we are already building a few roof tops there on an EPC basis.
One of them is a project in Charleroi constructed on the roof of a shopping center. This is a technically difficult work of smaller dimension (250 kWp). For this application, we have chosen the Dutch mounting system Aerocompact, which offers a wide range of specialized products for photovoltaics. To offer higher quality services to our clients, we constantly try to improve our knowledge and skills, and for example our employees have undergone professional certification training with the Aerocompact assembly system in Holland. The construction of a structure of this size and complexity was planned with an obvious time buffer for 3 weeks, but as you all know the construction in photovoltaics is one of the fields that are strongly dependent and influenced by the weather. This fact manifested itself very strongly in this project. Heavy rainfall and a very sharp roof pitch (23 °), in combination challenged the deadline and cost us a lot of additional effort.

We had on mind the term promised to the client, and if these conditions occur, we always try to adapt the work as much as possible. Change the work schedule and complete at first the work that this weather allows (installation of cable trays in areas under the roof structure, installation of inverters etc.). The difficulty of work was not only determined by the weather. This project was on a very tall building with minimal space for equipment that could transport material on to the roof, so we must have rented a special car with a hydraulic arm (crane track) to transport the material.The last details on this project are being completed and will be handed over to the client, who seemed to be pleased by our efforts as he understood the complexity of the project, bad weather and very good and fast communication.

It seems that the Belgian market is promising and that we have opened a good path to 4-5 strong clients there, who would appreciate our flexibility, fairness, project management skills and ability to effectively source right people and components

With this article, we would like to wish you a lot of professional and personal success in 2021, interesting and useful projects and such good clients as Greenbuddies has.


Hindsight is year 2020

Surely everyone at the beginning of the 2020 expressed to everyone of his friends, families, business contacts a wishes of healthy and prosperous year. However approaching March we all knew already that this will be a year like no other.

From a health perspective in 2020 the COVID – 19 phenomenon fortunately did not adversely affect anyone from the Greenbuddies. Counting the numbers at the end of the year we have also did not experience any slowdown. Moreover, we went up with our revenues comparing to 2019.

The main difference we experienced was in the way how we started to work during 2021:

 – Keeping track of ever-changing regulations in all our target countries + in our home country
 – Finding innovative ways how to work with these regulations
 – Project managers spending much more uninterrupted time in the target countries
 – Sales meetings over MS Teams, Skype, Zoom instead of talking in person (which I am personally missing a lot)
 – Home officing
 – Testing, testing, testing
 – Emergency – quarantine – relief when it proved the emergency alarm was fortunately false
Etc., etc., etc.

First 4 months were entirely according to our plan. After that we arrived into the period when the home offices at the governmental entities started to affect the approval processes, there appeared hiccups in delivery of panels: 2-3 following months became difficult. For the rest of the year I cannot use other word than „hectic“, many important and complex projects coming at the last moment.

I would namely express thanks to our clients to continue trusting us in this challenging year. Due to the agility of the customers, their vision, ability to adopt to new circumstances our financial result is in 2020 even better than last year. For the same reason our committed pipeline for 2021 is even stronger than at the beginning of last year already.
In the course of 2020 we have been able to strengthen the internal structure adding Purchasing department and standardised Quality management into our organisation structure etc. This allowed to deliver most complex projects with all the components, open 2 more countries (Belgium, France) and enter full speed to a biggest carport/EV Charging project of its kind in Austria.

This time it will work: Have a Healthy and prosperous year 2021!


 

Market Footprint 4Q 2020 19.01.2021

 

Good afternoon,
 
First of all we would like to wish you happy and healthy new year 2021.

Since November we are in the most demanding season of the year. A lot of rain and snow on our jobsite. Despite the very unfavorable weather conditions, we are glad that our professional work team has done a great job.   
 
Last quarter we got completed over 353 MWp since our start in 2018. Details you can see – as every quarter – in our Market footprint.
 
Feel free to send us an inquiry of our services!  We are looking forward to further cooperation.

Best regards